CT Scanning of the Chest
CT scanning—sometimes called CAT scanning—is a noninvasive medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions.
CT scanning combines special x-ray equipment with sophisticated computers to produce multiple images or pictures of the inside of the body. These cross-sectional images of the area being studied can then be examined on a computer monitor or printed.
CT scans of internal organs, bone, soft tissue and blood vessels provide greater clarity and reveal more details than regular x-ray exams.
Using a variety of techniques, including adjusting the radiation dose based on patient size and new software technology, the amount of radiation needed to perform a chest CT scan can be significantly reduced. A low-dose chest CT produces images of sufficient image quality to detect many lung diseases and abnormalities using up to 65 percent less ionizing radiation than a conventional chest CT scan. This is especially true for detecting and following lung cancer. Other diseases, such as the detection of pulmonary embolism and interstitial lung disease may not be appropriate for low-dose chest CT. Your radiologist will decide the proper settings to be used for your scan depending on your medical problems and what information is needed from the CT scan. If your child is to have a CT scan, the proper low-dose pediatric settings should be used.
CT of the chest is used to:
- further examine abnormalities found on conventional chest x-rays.
- help diagnose the cause of clinical signs or symptoms of disease of the chest, such as cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, or fever.
- detect and evaluate the extent of tumors that arise in the chest, or tumors that have spread there from other parts of the body.
- assess whether tumors are responding to treatment.
- help plan radiation therapy.
- evaluate injury to the chest, including the blood vessels, lungs, ribs and spine.
Chest CT can demonstrate various lung disorders, such as:
- lung cancer.
- old or new pneumonia.
- inflammation or other diseases of the pleura, which covers the lungs.
- diffuse interstitial lung disease.
A CT angiogram (CTA) may be performed to evaluate the blood vessels (arteries and veins) in the chest. This involves the rapid injection of an iodine-containing fluid (contrast material) into a vein while obtaining numerous, thinner CT images.